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His head is on my chest and his tears make a path down my chest; his thin body trembles in my arms like a leaf in a storm, but he does not make a sound— not because he doesn’t want to, but because he’s still afraid I’ll punish him, even after two months of trying to atone for my mistakes against him; for all the times I’ve hurt him. 

It stings— knowing that my own Submissive is afraid to even make a noise in my presence when he should be comfortable instead.

But I deserve no less. I know that much; in fact, I do not even deserve him anymore, not after all that I’ve put him through, all the times I’ve tortured him mindlessly. 

My first moments out of that cauldron were blurry and confusing, but the first thing I felt was my bond to him, already stretched to its limits due to my treatment of him and then our seperation. But still, I continued to ignore him until I reabsorbed all of my Horcruxes, the result being the return of my sanity, looks, and the power I should’ve had had I not split my own soul apart like a fool. 

 With my sanity returning, also came the horror at my treatment of Severus. It was unbelievable to think how much I’ve strayed from who I was, and yet the proofs were all in my own memory; it was my own hands which hit Severus, my own tongue which insulted him, my own wand which cursed him, and nobody else’s. 

And he still stayed. 

Tonight is our first night alone with me not being a violent, raging monster, so I do not speak, at first, for fear of startling my Submissive. But I am, still, selfish, and I cannot stop myself from apologizing to him, even if I know that mere words are not going to fix. 

I hold him, and the first sob that leaves him has me crying along with him; in the face of his tears, of his pain, I am reduced to tears myself. 

Crying is what I deserve. 


Weeks — two months pass by as he stays with me, still quiet, still not himself, but it is more than I could have ever wished for. 

I bend down and kiss his shoulder from where he’s tensely leaning against my knees, his favorite brush on the bedside table and his hands laying limply in his lap. 

“Master?” He hesitantly asks, drawing my immediate attention. He’s still quiet, still only talks only when I instigate a conversation, and even then he’s skittish and wary. He does not spend that much time with me— certainly not as much as he did back before I went insane— instead he prefers being in the labs and the greenhouses, experimenting with potions and tending to his plants. 

So to hear him ask me , of all people, something, I cannot help but be infinitely curious. 

“Yes, my love?” 

He bites his lip and fidgets with his fingers, a habit that he never broke, regardless of however much Dumbledore wanted him to look like an emotionless Dominant. Oh yes, the Headmaster knew of Severus’ true Classification, but he did not know of our relationship. 

My Submissive places a silver ribbon in my lap, his touch lingering for a second. He shifts, his long hair sliding against my clothed knees. “Braid my hair for me, please?” 

Stunned as I am, I still answer him happily. “Of course, beloved. Is there any particular style you want?” 

He takes a deep breath. “A fishtail, Master?” 

I kiss his forehead once more, nearly trembling from the relief of knowing that we’re progressing steadily. “A fishtail it is.”


 

 But with every two steps forward, we must take a step back: 

Most nights, he wakes up shaking and dry-heaving, and the nightmares plague his steps the next day. 

I am not blind nor am I dead, and I am most certainly not oblivious; his nightmares contain either me or Dumbledore, sometimes both of us. He’s most distant those days, locking himself up and away from me. 

I do not bother him, of course, but I still worry about him so much that I send the elves to check on him regularly. I am only glad that he’s no longer working in Hogwarts; his mutterings in his dreams do not paint a pretty picture, and I definitely do not want him back there so as long as that man lives. 

In his stead, I have sent an Inner Circle Death Eater to teach and watch his Snakes. The Death Eater continuously sends reports if what he sees and hears in Hogwarts, and has secretly assured the Snakes of their Head of House’s safety and health, but he has not disclosed Severus’ true Classification. 

Either way, I do not plan on letting Severus come to harm any longer. 


 

The first time he laughs I am stunned right back into silence. 

It begins like this: he’s surprisingly sitting with me in my study, me dealing with reports while he’s reading a potions journal. 

Nagini, my faithful familiar, slithers inside but I do not notice her, too busy grumbling under my breath about reports breeding excessively the second I take my eyes off them. 

If there is one thing that giant snake does not like, it is being ignored. So she silently moves over to my chair, Severus abandoning his journal to watch what my snake’ll do. 

Suddenly, she smacks her tail against my leg, and I, shocked, yelp and stand up, nearly falling down along with my chair while the quill in my hand snaps. 

I turn to glare at Nagini, but the sound of laughter stops me. 

Severus is grinning as he laughs, eyes shut and crinkled at the corners. His hair, now long, is down and spread about his shoulders, the dark locks soft. 

I ignore Nagini, too focused on my beautiful Submissive to pay attention to her. 

Severus must’ve noticed the silence, because he quietens down and the scared look once more enters his expression– afraid that I’ll punish him for laughing at me. 

Except, I am in no way angry. 

I step closer to him and trace the back of my hand down his cheek, staring at him fondly. “Beautiful,” I whisper absentmindedly, too entranced by him even smiling at me to notice his blush. 

To this day, this particular memory holds a great place in my heart, and I hoard it much like a dragon hoards his gold. 


 

Even more time passes, and it seems to be passing even quicker after our taking of Hogwarts and subsequently, the Ministry. 

Still, I cherish Severus with everything I have, and he now has no problem smiling or laughing with me, or at me. During arguments— few as they are— he’s a bit cautious, but he has no problem arguing with me calmly instead of retreating back to a silent, scared Submissive. 

Even after Dumbledore’s death, my love expressed the desire that he no longer wished to continue teaching; he wanted to continue working on new potions, and go to the conferences and seminars those of minds like his lead and arrange. 

Of course, I let him do as he wished, and joined him whenever I could should he go outside the country. Everything is incredible for a while, until— 

Severus started getting sick. 

But instead of being worried or concerned, we are both delighted: the pregnancy potion that he took earlier this week must’ve worked, and a visit to our Healer confirms what we already were sure about. 

The leading nine months are tad bit difficult; Severus is either sick or tired most of the time, and it’s rare for him to get aroused. He stops his potions experiments during the pregnancy— no way I am letting him inhale potentially harmful potion fumes— and prefers lying down most of the time, feeding a small portion of his magic steadily to our baby, who turns out to be a girl. 

For all that he is tired— he’s also glowing. Sometimes, he seems stunned and amazed at the fact that it is his body taking care of a child, and his hand in often on his baby bump— not like I don’t keep my hand on it, either. In fact, if I’m not busy, then I am kissing his distended stomach and whispering vows of love and devotion to my daughter. 

Correction: to my daughter and my Submissive.


 

“My Lord? You may come in,” 

I do not wait for any further words from the Healer before I am rushing inside and to my Severus, who has tears streaming down his cheeks as he holds our daughter. 

“My love,” I coo to him, grinning; I cannot help the utter giddiness I feel as I embrace him. 

“She’s so beautiful, Domine,” he says, tracing a finger down our daughter’s chubby cheek as she feeds from him, his body magically producing milk. 

I am transfixed as he continues feeding her, now sitting beside my tired Submissive on the bed. “Thank you, my own,” I then say, just as our daughter finishes drinking and settles down to sleep. He puts her in my arms, and there’s no words good enough to describe how I feel when I hold her for the first time. 

It is something along the lines of protectiveness and love— fondness— but those words are too simple to use, so I shall use ethereal, for that is what it feels like. 

My beautiful Severus leans back onto the pillows while still managing to cuddle with me. He sighs and wipes his tears, smiling as our daughter tightly grips onto my finger when I trace her tiny, soft hand. 

“What should we name her, lovely?” I ask him, kissing her forehead. We ignore the Healers as they pack their equipment and leave with the elves, only our personal Healer moving back to her room instead of going back to St. Mungo’s. 

He makes a contemplative noise, and stays silent for a while. Then— “How about Adeline?” 

“And middle name?” 

“Hmm… Artemis?” 

Adeline Artemis Slytherin. 

I kiss him suddenly, taking his by surprise for a second before he kisses me back, sweetly. 

“It is perfect, beloved. Just like you and Adeline are.”